// by Michael G. Thodoroff //
Photos by // Michael Gleason Photography
Hard to believe what started out as a typical one-day car show 14 years ago has blossomed into one of the premier classic car events in the nation! Starting out in February as a sure cure for cabin fever, the Chrome & Ice indoor car show initiates the feel for the upcoming Back to the Bricks. When the weather breaks, it’s the early-summer statewide Promo Tour that leads into the county-wide week of Tune-up Parties just before the main event week, which this year was August 14-18.
Along with thousands of cars participating in the two-day rolling car cruise, hundreds of cars were displayed along the curbs of downtown Flint’s Saginaw Street. For the second year, the Buick Club of America’s Buicks on the Bricks was staged at historic Factory One – the birthplace of General Motors. Located at 303 Water St. on the outskirts of downtown and with an impressive array of Buick automobiles, Factory One opened its doors for the public to view a display of historical engines along with presentations by former Buick engineers on the iconic Buick Grand National and high-performance Buick engines.
After a visit to Factory One, celebrity Butch Patrick, who played little Eddie Munster in “The Munsters,” was seen mingling with the crowds, reminiscing about the American family television sitcom that ran from 1964 to 1966 with 70 episodes and decades of syndication. At various times, Patrick could be seen driving around in the illustrious customized Munster Coach.
Another highlight of this year’s event was the appearance of Flint’s hometown hero and undisputed Automotive King: Carl Casper. While in high school as starting quarterback for the Flint Technical High School football team, he took various engineering-related classes and, combined with some acquired bodywork and engine-building skills, built his first custom car while in high school, eventually winning Best in Show honors at the 1961 Detroit Autorama show. This early success launched a string of show cars, race cars and TV and movie cars that continues to this day. Always preferring to remain in the background while his creations did the talking, he is as active as ever now in his seventies.
Also, it was a pleasant coincidence that this year’s Back to the Bricks aligned with Casper’s 60th Flint Technical High School reunion. Always proud of his roots in Flint, he made a formal presentation to Kevin Kirbitz, Factory One’s plant manager, at the opening ceremony in downtown’s Flat Lot. Casper permanently loaned a unique, beautifully restored Durant-Dort carriage that was originally built in Factory One, dating to the early 1900s.
While giving way to the Bikes on the Bricks event in September, organizers are already laying the groundwork for the 2019 version of Back to the Bricks – which promises to be even better!